Community Resources & State Fair Accessibility – Podcast
Accra's Kevin Lamminen details the accessibility services at the MN State Fair and how Accra connects clients with community resources.
Mon.-Thurs. | 8am to 4:30pm
Fri. | 8am to 4pm
The Champions of Homecare Podcast is ready for the Great Minnesota Get Together! Accra’s Community Resources Coordinator (and in-house State Fair expert) Kevin Lamminen is here to detail the accessibility services available at the fair and share some of his favorite State Fair tips and tricks. More importantly, Kevin explains how Accra connects clients with community resources and partners, which can improve their quality of life at home.
In our News & Views segment, we cover the ABLE program, which allows people with disabilities to save more than the $2,000 asset limit required in many Federal assistance programs, and a proposed addition to the program called the ABLE MATCH Act. This addition could help people with lower incomes participate in the ABLE program by creating a Federal dollar-for-dollar match for new and existing ABLE accounts held by individuals that make $28,000 annually or less.
David Hancox, Podcast Host and Accra Chief Administrative Officer: Welcome listeners to another episode of the Champions of Homecare Podcast here at Accra. And in case you’re new here, we want to make sure to share a reminder of exactly what this podcast is. Jason?
Jason Dorow, Podcast Co-Host and Producer: Yeah. And if you’re here, you’ve probably got a hunch, right? But we thought episode four is a good time for a reminder. We’re here to cover the latest homecare news in Minnesota, and explain the homecare service programs, hopefully making your homecare experience as simple as possible.
But we’re also here to share community resources, tips and tricks for the many older adults and people of all ages with disabilities in Minnesota. And that’s why for our last episode, we invited on Ellie Wilson, the executive director of the Autism Society of Minnesota, to join us and share a little bit about resources for the autism community.
David Hancox: And, boy, I’m sure you would agree with me, Jason, that Ellie did just a fantastic job of sharing some ideas about how to get kids prepared to go back to school, especially kids with autism and their families.
She explained some of the many supports that the the Autism Society of Minnesota offers. And hopefully that conversation will help people kind of unlock some of those tricks to create more independence and reduce some of the challenges that the kids encounter when they’re getting ready to go back to school and quite frankly, the families as a whole.
Because you know, being part of a family, the whole family is getting ready to send that kid back to school, not just the child themselves. So I just thought Ellie did a fantastic job. And I’m sure you feel the same way.
So today, what we’re going to focus on, continuing to kind of focus on resources a little bit today as well.
We’re going to talk about the resources for people with disabilities that are available in the community. And I think it’ll be a fun twist. And we’ll dive into some of those tips and tricks that you mentioned earlier and for the accessibility and accommodation for individuals with disabilities, particularly at the Minnesota State Fair, because it starts next Thursday. So anyway, Jason?
Jason Dorow: It’s an exciting time of the year right? We did back to school last episode. Now before back to school, you got to hit the Fair. So we’re excited to talk about-
David Hancox: Cheese curds, yes.
Jason Dorow: So let’s bring in today’s guest, it’s Accra’s Community Resource Coordinator, Kevin Lamminen. Kevin, how are you doing?
Kevin Lamminen, Accra Community Resources Coordinator: Hey, doing great guys. How about you?
David Hancox: Great. Kevin, thanks for being here with us today.
I think this is going to be – as Jason just noted – it’s going to be a very informative and exciting podcast for our listeners. Especially the tips and tricks that you can provide about the State Fair, because I’ve known Kevin a long, long time, Jason, we’ve worked together for better than 10 years. And I know one of the things that I know about Kevin is that he absolutely loves the State Fair.
And he is a great collector of resources. When he goes to the state fair, he comes out with bags of resource material and stuff. So he’s the perfect guest for this topic.
But Kevin, before we get into some of that, why don’t you just share with our listeners a little bit. What is your role here at Accra as a Community Resource Coordinator?
Kevin Lamminen: Oh, absolutely. Thank you, David. So my job really revolves around those that need particular services to access resources in the community. So it could be really a broad number of things from birth to senior adult.
So imagine going into a library for the very first time, and you just don’t know what to expect. And you see all these huge stacks of books and periodicals and things to use and things to do. And you’re just not sure where to access or what kind of questions do you even ask in the first place to find those resources.
So my role is to find particular resources that help folks with childcare, food, utility assistance, housing, disability access, advocacy, Social Security Really, there is no wrong question to ask me. And so for the individual that comes to us here at Accra, it might be a little bit overwhelming to know, first off, what is the first question you need to ask? What’s available?
So first, we kind of navigated what’s available in the community, and doing that one on one approach with individuals to say what are your needs, because everybody’s needs are going to be so different. And so going back to that idea of going into the library for the first time, that daunting experience, what do all libraries have? A resource person, a librarian.
So I’m like that librarian to help you find the right tools getting you to the right place. So finally, you know, librarians I have a really good kind of intuition on things. So they know where that book is, it might be hidden within all the steps. But I might be able to take you directly to that resource, and then find some related resources that meet your needs. So we’re kind of creating a community of connections here.
And we’re networking together. So I might ask, in that resource discovery, what kind of resources have you used already? And I, myself, might also be kind of finding out and identify new resources as well to share with others. So it’s kind of a, we’re working with one another to find those solutions?
David Hancox: Well, Kevin, you mentioned in your explanation there, you mentioned a variety of different topics that you do get questions on, like housing and home modifications and other types of supports and things like that. Is there a question or an inquiry that is more common than others? I mean, what’s the one that you get asked about the most?
Kevin Lamminen: Well, there’s a lot of needs. And so each community we serve, we serve all 87 counties here in Minnesota. So it really depends upon the region. So recently, I provided a survey to our qualified professionals, nurses and other teams, just to see what type of needs were highlighted or identified for that community. And not surprisingly, we came up with a lot of things regarding mental health and isolation, and reminding ourselves that we do have those ARMHS and Mental Health Services here in Accra, so it’s kind of a good fit.
Also, you know, where do I access foods is a very basic thing. So we’re looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, for instance, we got to work on those basic needs, and kind of working our way up to that self actualization piece. And so I might talk about food and finding the right farmers market, and how do you utilize market bucks, or a food shelter in the area?
Kevin Lamminen: Also, transportation is a big factor here. How do you actually get to and from the doctor’s office, especially if you live within rural Minnesota, where there’s kind of far and few between sometimes to access those services?
And then a common question is, how do I actually find staff? That’s a big, huge issue, in today’s day and age to find the right type of staff that’s going to help meet your needs. And what are those potential strategies to try to kind of tie into that, like, how do I find somebody? How do I publish an ad? Or how do I talk about my need in a way that I can actually find the staff that I need?
And then alongside of that, housing is a big huge issue too, in Minnesota, just try to find that accessible housing, and find those furnishings and those things that can actually help you live comfortably inside your home. So quite a lot of resources, and there are no wrong questions to ask.
Jason Dorow: Yeah, a lot of this, Kevin, seems – you know, housing, transportation – seems like it ties directly into social determinants of health. That’s something you mentioned to us in planning for today’s conversation.
Can you explain a little bit more about the connection between these resources and how they are intertwined with those social determinants?
Kevin Lamminen: Oh, absolutely. So to begin to kind of explain what a social determinants of health is. So social determinants of health really revolve around where somebody works, studies, plays, worships, or has community.
And so, tying the focus into that, if we’re talking about some economic stability, people with disabilities may not understand that just because they have a disability doesn’t prevent them from work, and having a successful work life. So you can kind of put those work pieces together alongside that disability.
Kevin Lamminen: And so that kind of reminds me of an initiative that happened in Minnesota with Pathways to Employment. And their slogan was “ready, willing, and able”. And so kind of working with the individuals that have called me and I’m meeting with to let them know that you are ready, willing and able and we can get you back into the workforce, if that’s a possibility for you and your disability.
So we talked about work, and the next is education and access. We realized that many people might need accommodations while they’re finding a place for education. And what are those dreams and desires that we can really tap into?
People have big dreams and big desires and disabilities certainly don’t stop them from people being able to achieve these goals. And then, of course, because Accra provides health care, that’s another way that we provide a pivotal role in having people have access to the right type of health care, and kind of discovering how does their health care through Minnesota – Medical Assistance, or special needs care plans and other types of resources and plans that they have – really helped out with access to health care. And sometimes people don’t realize what all healthcare provides. So providing that educational component is really key.
Kevin Lamminen: And of course, social and community connectedness is very key, especially when people are talking to us about feeling isolated, and alone and feeling down. And so, where are those places where you can have community or having congregate dining or a place just to call your own or playing cards or just kind of making those connections.
And lastly, neighborhoods are very key. So how diverse are neighborhoods? So finding those right resources, so they’re culturally appropriate. Maybe we’re looking at diversity, equity and inclusion, those things are very key and critical for people to have fulfilled lives. And so not only that, we can look at Internet access, or maybe recreation or a wide variety of things that really tie into all of the social determinants of health.
David Hancox: You know, Kevin, it occurs to me, and I never really thought about it in this context before and I don’t know why I haven’t, but the services that you’re providing, by helping individuals identify and get connected with some of these community resources, really does provide Accra the opportunity to be a more holistic homecare provider.
So we’re not just providing those elements of homecare, like PCA services, respite, family supports, etc. But with the addition of all the community resources, and your ability to create a connection between individuals and those community resources, it’s like that old biblical saying of either giving a man a fish or teaching a man to fish, you know, and I think that your approach to this and the competency and the skill that you bring to this particular service element, really does allow Accra to become a more holistic homecare provider. And I think that’s really kind of important. And I never really thought of it in that context before. But I think that’s really fantastic.
And you mentioned, you know, connecting people with different kinds of resources, are there different organizations in the community that Accra tends to collaborate with on a more regular basis? I know you mentioned assisting people to find household goods or home modifications and resources like that. Are there common organizations that you work with on a fairly regular basis that we’ve established a strong relationship with for this purpose?
Kevin Lamminen: We actually have, for instance, our National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, has great education and resources for those that are just kind of exploring for the first time their mental health or need, or they’re caring for a family member or loved one.
The Autism Society of Minnesota, of course, we’ve talked about that, on a similar podcast. And Bridging, which provides those household goods for people in need. And we have a direct way to connect people to Bridging as well as our community action partnerships. They provide those hands on supports for people in their communities, with food support, and different kinds of housing or different programs.
And then ConectAbility, which is a great community partner, which is a disability service organization that provides donated equipment to individuals, so that durable medical equipment that people might need in their homes, transportation, and home based services. And we do also partner with several nonprofit organizations that serve our BIPOC communities, and celebrate our diversity, equity and inclusion.
David Hancox: If I’m not mistaken, ConnectAbility, do they not also provide home modification resources?
Kevin Lamminen: Yes, they do. And they also will help you if you have a waiver program through the county, kind of connect to that resource and be able to use those funds in a great way. So then your needs are being met.
David Hancox: Fantastic.
Jason Dorow: I was thinking back to the start of our conversation. And Kevin, you said, you often have people coming to you who have no clue where to go or who to ask. How do Accra clients and others find you? How do they wind up connecting with you in order to access these resources and connect with community partners?
Kevin Lamminen: Yes, absolutely. So Accra has provided a way for us to connect. You can call me directly if you’d like my number is 952-356-1303. That will get you directly to my desk so we can have that one-on-one conversation.
Or similarly, if you’re working with a qualified professional nurse or other individual that helps provide support to you from Accra, they can always send out a referral to me. Generally, I’m working on these requests right away between 24 and 48 hours.
And we can kind of dive into all of these different things, knowing that there might not just be one need, but there might be a couple different needs kind of together. And we can kind of suss those out and kind of determine where our next steps are.
David Hancox: Fantastic. Fantastic. And thank you for sharing your phone number. Kevin, I appreciate that.
David Hancox: Okay, I’m very excited, because I know again, as I mentioned earlier in the podcast, Kevin’s great affection for the State Fair. So I’m really kind of anxious and excited to hear his tips and tricks for accessibility and accommodations and other aspects of the State Fair.
Kevin, could you kind of address that issue because the State Fair, as Jason mentioned, it’s coming up next week. And it’s, you know, the great Minnesota get together, right, so.
Kevin Lamminen: Well, absolutely. And so for those that are looking for discounted tickets, remember that your local Cub has a really good discount on those tickets and those tickets for like, different kid fares and different things like that. So save some money there.
Another good tip is to bring a water bottle with you. It could be an empty water bottle because there’s several hydration stations all throughout the Fair. So you don’t necessarily need to spend all your money on beverages since there’s certainly some really good foods that are available.
Kevin Lamminen: But as far as accessibility, first I’d like to mention accessibility via hometown mobility, which has electric scooters, strollers, wagons and wheelchairs. And they are available at the five locations inside the main gates of the State Fair.
They are open from 7 am to 11 pm, and 9 pm on Labor Day. So those scooters are going to cost about $70 for the day, but I’ve taken individuals with me that had mobility needs, and they are well worth it. All other items are about $20 to $25 per day.
And if you’re curious about how to charge up your electric scooter while you’re at the Fair because chances are you’re going to be there for a full day. If you’re kind of checking everything out, there are electrical outlets to recharge those scooters at the care and assistance Southwest end market and also the South Side grandstands. And to identify those charging stations they will be designated with disability signs.
Now for those that utilize ASL interpreting services, they are offered all throughout the Fair, and if you want ASL interpreting, you can contact the State Fair by calling 651-288-4448, or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then caption services are also available at many of the events.
Kevin Lamminen: Now for those individuals that have sensory friendly needs, we do have an organization called Fraser that has a Fraser sensory building with trained sensory support volunteers that is open nine to nine on the west side of Cosgrove just south of the home improvement building.
Now for those with sensory needs, some suggestions are to come early to the Fair. So between 7 am and 8 am, that’s going to give you the best chance to take a look at some of the animals, the pet food pavilions and the Kemps Little Hands exhibit and it won’t be as noisy for you. As well as Monday – Wednesday, the attendance is a lot lower than on the weekend.
Kevin Lamminen: Now for those that are providing a service dog or bringing a service dog with you, those are permitted throughout the fairgrounds. However, no emotional support animals are able to be at the Fair because they do not qualify underneath the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Kevin Lamminen: There is also a universally designed changing restroom with a hoist by Momentum Refresh, which has a full sized adjustable changing table and a ceiling hoist. It’s a mobile restroom, but you do need to provide your own sling. And that location is off of Cosgrove on the east side north of Lee Avenue.
Kevin Lamminen: And for those that have visual impairment needs, there are large print daily schedules and maps available at any information booth. So those are ready for you, and then as well as those that need an accommodation for bariatric seating and chairs, they do have larger seats available 24 hours in advance by calling 651-288-4448 or emailing email@example.com.
Kevin Lamminen: And lastly, before I let you go, I want to mention that there are 34 new foods this year at the Fair. Exciting to me. So there’s over 500 foods now, 500 foods and 300 concession stand locations and I will not bore everybody by naming all 34.
But I have selected a few that I’m thinking I’m going to try since I usually go at least six or seven times to the Fair. So the first one is the bacon-wrapped waffle dogs, the next one is basil hummus with spicy walnut topping, a bee-stinged sundae, chicken momo with tomato chutney, crispy lutefisk steam bun, dill pickle cheese curd taco, walleye fritter pops, and finally pickle fries, which I can’t wait to try.
David Hancox: Kevin, you’re making me hungry. I’m standing here drooling. That all sounds so, well, not all of them, but a large number of them sound really, really good.
But I have to ask one final question, I’m fascinated by the the amount of examples that you gave of accessibility features at the State Fair, I had no idea that there was an accessible bathroom with a Hoyer lift. You know, that’s mounted into the ceiling. I had no idea that that level of accommodation was available. So I’m so glad you shared that.
But I’m dying to ask you, being the avid Fair goer that you are what if you had to name your favorite thing about the Minnesota State Fair, what would that be?
Kevin Lamminen: I love all the details. So people oftentimes, it gets so busy in life. And it’s the idea of just taking a pause and looking at each individual around you knowing that we have so much diversity here in the state.
And just being able to people watch for one. And then also just the tiny little details that they have on the buildings and different things that you can take pictures of. And then a lot of the free events that are just all scattered out throughout the Fair and the live music. So there’s plenty of things to do once you get in. But I just love people most.
David Hancox: That’s great. People watching, I know you enjoy that.
Jason Dorow: And it’s fantastic that the Fair is doing so many different things to make it so it truly can be the Great Minnesota get together, where people of all different backgrounds and disabilities can come together and enjoy it.
David Hancox: Absolutely. I always knew that we put a lot of time and attention into the accessibility of the Fair. But I had no idea it was as deep as Kevin has explained and shared with us this morning. So I appreciate you sharing that to Kevin. Jason, you were gonna say?
Jason Dorow: Well, I was gonna say, Kevin, we posed a fair number of questions at you. But I’m curious if there’s anything, you’ve done a lot of research, is there anything we haven’t given you the opportunity to share that you really want to put out there on the champions of homecare podcast?
Kevin Lamminen: Yeah, I just wanted to say just know that Accra wants you to know that you’re seen and heard. So every time you use our services, we are definitely here for you. We’re just a phone call away. We love to provide this type of education and support and resources, but know that you are the reason why we’re here. We we love every one of you.
David Hancox: Thank you, Kevin, what a fantastic sentiment to end with. Thank you so very, very much. And I know it comes from your heart. I know it does. I know Kevin, as I mentioned earlier, we’ve known each other a long time. And Kevin is one of the most authentic people I’ve ever met. So thank you, Kevin, that was a wonderful sentiment to share.
Thank you for being here with us today. My gosh, you’ve provided so much really interesting and valuable information. I’m sure the listeners will be calling you. They’ll be using your phone number. So it’s going to be ringing off the hook.
That’s gonna be fascinating for people to realize the holistic approach that we do take here at Accra to providing you know, services and opportunities to people with disabilities and older adults and their families. So Kevin, thank you again, thank you so very, very much for being here with us today. Thank you both.
Jason Dorow: Thanks, Kevin.
David Hancox: So Jason, I know in wrapping up here we have some news and views to share. One of the things we wanted to talk about a little bit was the recent introduction of the ABLE Act on the federal level.
Senator Klobuchar recently introduced legislation that would further enhance the ABLE Act that was originally passed back in 2014, by Senator Bob Casey, who is from Pennsylvania. And I believe that if I’m not mistaken, Senator Casey’s father was actually governor of the state of Pennsylvania at one time, I should know that because I’m a Pennsylvanian and I should know that.
But in any event back in 2014, Senator Casey authored and passed a bill called the ABLE Act that really assisted people with disabilities to create a larger asset, personal asset than the $2,000 limit. So it created a dollar for dollar match, if you will, for people under a certain income limit, so that they could actually increase their asset limit beyond the $2,000 level, so that they could, you know, better prepare for not only their aging process and retirement potentially, but also to cover the costs of just their living expenses, you know, not being able to amass more than $2,000 of assets is, that’s pretty limiting.
I mean, so the current ABLE Match Act that has been reintroduced by Senator Klobuchar will actually increase that dollar for dollar match up to a level of $28,000 annually, or less. So it tapers off after the $28,000 level is matched, but people can certainly visit their Senate’s website or Senator Klobuchar’s website to learn more about the Match Act.
I don’t know that we have a bill number on that. I don’t see one in our notes here. But it is called the ABLE Match Act. And people can Google that and look up and find some additional information about it.
The reason that this is important for people with disabilities and their families is that, you know, individuals with disabilities and their families facing the challenges that we do and trying to prepare for a more fulfilling life, especially if they’re already living in a lower income household.
This Match Act will allow them to increase their asset level, to a degree that you know, for some people may actually help to reduce or maybe even eliminate some of those dependencies that they have on public supports and services, and creates a greater sense and degree of independence and not just a sense of but a reality of greater independence for people.
So I would really encourage people to look into that to educate themselves about the Match Act, communicate with their their member of Congress, whether it’s their House of Representatives Member, or whether it’s one of the two state senators, Senator Smith or Senator Klobuchar, and ask them to please support this bill. And I think, Jason, you wanted to share a little bit about the rebate checks that are coming out from state of Minnesota?
Jason Dorow: Yeah, let’s get into a few of the details there. The state already started sending those rebate checks out to Minnesotans during the week of August 14. And so recipients who have up to date banking information with the state should just receive their rebate automatically in their bank account. It might already be there.
If the state doesn’t have your banking information, officials will send a paper check to the address listed on your 2021 tax return.
Now, not everyone qualifies for these rebate checks, it’s individuals with a gross adjusted income of up to $75,000 in 2021. They’re eligible for a payment of $260. While married filers with an income of up to 150,000 could get double that amount, $520.
So Minnesotans are disqualified if they made any amount over those thresholds. But families can get an additional rebate check for up to three dependents for a maximum of $1,300. So you might be hearing that number tossed around in the news. Or if you’re hearing statements from the governor, that could be the total amount when you account for rebates for those dependencies as well.
But keep an eye out, watch your direct deposit if you have that banking information set up. Otherwise, watch for a check. About 900,000 payments were sent out by Wednesday, August 16. So more than 2 million total payments will be sent out through September. There’s more to come with all those paper checks. A lot of progress has been made already though.
David Hancox: And if I might add Jason, if people have questions about their eligibility or when they might expect their check or whatever. Please don’t call Accra because we don’t have that information. It’s not that we don’t want to be helpful, but we just simply don’t have that information, we would suggest that you call the Minnesota Department of Revenue. And you can find them online or you know, call them directly or send them an email to find out about your eligibility or any other questions you may have about it. We just want to make people aware of it, but we don’t, we have no authority, or responsibility for that. So we just want to make sure that people don’t start calling Accra because we don’t have information about that particular issue. So we need information that’s shared. Jason.
Jason Dorow: Yeah, we know those checks, just like some of the things that can come from the ABLE Match Act, those checks can make a difference in your quality of living and getting you know, assistive technology, home modifications, different things that improve your quality of life, living at home in your community. So that’s why we’re sharing this heads up.
David Hancox: Well, and you know, the timing of these rebate checks, I would have to say also, you know, our last podcast, when we talked about kids getting ready to go back to school, I would imagine these rebate checks could become, could come in very, very handy as families are preparing to send kids back to school. Because it’s not cheap school clothes and backpacks and school supplies and everything else, it adds up adds up really fast.
All right. I think that brings us to the end of this podcast. Jason, what a pleasure it is to do these podcasts with you. And I think we have another successful one to put in the can here. And I hope you have a great weekend. It’s gonna be a hot one this weekend in Minnesota and in Minneapolis. So, thanks again. I hope you enjoyed this podcast.
Jason Dorow: And hopefully it cools off in time for the Fair. If you go you’ll probably just run into Kevin somewhere since it sounds like he goes seven different times. And then after the Fair wraps up, we’ll have another episode of the podcast for you.
David Hancox Hey, there you go. Always look forward to another one. Thanks, Jason.